Read in this ABC News article why you should always refer orphaned wildlife (and that includes exotic wildlife) to a trained carer.
SECTION ONE: Assessment and First Aid
- How to remove a joey from a dead mother's pouch (PDF)
- Assessment checklist (PDF)
- How to recognise pain in wildlife (PDF)
The most important points for initial care of an orphaned joey are: fluids, warmth, darkness, quiet. The joey will most likely be dehydrated and refuse to take a bottle. Rehydrate the joey, warm it up in a calm, dark place, and only then attempt to feed milk. If you do not have access to kangaroo milk replacer, you can initially use low-lactose puppy milk. Do not use milk that has more than 0.7% lactose. Order kangaroo milk replacer immediately! Anything else will cause developmental problems that might result in chronic disease and death. Wombaroo is the best milk you can buy, but it takes weeks to get it delivered from the US. Alternatively, use Gunyah from The Netherlands (sources below).
Joeys that have no yet emerged from the pouch (younger than 210 days in Red-Necked / Bennett's Wallabies and Eastern Grey Kangaroos) are unable to fully thermoregulate. If you do not have an incubator with precise regulation of temperature and humidity, and a heart sound simulator, you must wear the joey in its pouch close to your skin at all times to prevent it from getting hypothermic.
SECTION TWO: Feed and CarePlease note that this video is quite old. Brolga and most other carers switched to toileting their joeys on the lap, so that the consistency, smell and colour of the urine and faeces can be assessed daily.
- Milk for Marsupials (PDF)
- Source for kangaroo milk replacer in Europe (webshop)
- Source for Wombaroo milk replacer in the USA (webshop)
- Wombaroo milk book, including growth charts and feed volumes (PDF)
- Macropodology: A guide to raising and releasing kangaroos and wallabies (PDF)
- Care and handling of orphaned kangaroos (PDF)
- Guide to Australian native mammals (PDF)
- Marsupial nutrition (PDF)
- Code of practice for injured, sick, and orphaned Macropods (PDF)
- EAZA's Best Practice Guideline for the Yellow-Footed Rock Wallaby (PDF)
SECTION THREE: Medicine
- Practical Marsupial medicine (PDF)
- Body condition scoring of Macropods (PDF)
- Capture myopathy (PDF)
- Medicine of Australian Mammals with its entire section on veterinary aspects of hand-rearing marsupials is free on Google Book Preview. Important to note here, for example, are (quote):
“Hand-reared pouch young must be considered at risk from infectious disease because they are no longer receiving passive immunity, they will have lost most maternal immunoglobulins by about 4 wk after separation from the mother, and they are protected only by an underdeveloped active immune system.” And “Psychological stress is a common precipitant to disease in pouch young and must be avoided where possible. Stressful situations include an insecure pouch environment, excessive handling, petting and playing with children, contact with unfamiliar animals and humans, exposure to unfamiliar environments and noises, sudden changes in routine, sudden changes in feeding schedule, and sudden withdrawal of contact with carer or buddy. It is important to remember that a mother-reared pouch young develops in a quiet, dark, secure and stable environment. It has a very gradual exposure to the outside world and has limited social contact with conspecifics.”
SECTION FOUR: Release
Your joey can only be released into a mob when it is physically and behaviourally ready. This means:
- It has recovered from any injury, illness or veterinary procedure.
- Its weight, size, and condition are within the range appropriate for that species, age, and sex.
- It has acclimatised to the local weather/climate.
- It is fit enough, meaning it has the muscle mass and strength expected of a healthy joey of that age, sex, and species.
- It has adapted to (naturally or otherwise) available food and water and knows how to find/recognise them.
- It recognises predators and knows how to avoid them (might not apply to captive settings).
- It can navigate effectively through its environment.
- It can recognise and interact normally with members of its own species.
- Its readiness for release is confirmed by an experienced veterinarian or macropod rehabilitator.
Adapted from Code of Practice for injured, sick and orphaned macropods, New South Wales Department of planning, industry & environment, and from Medicine of Australian Mammals, Larry Vogelnest & Rupert Woods, ed..
It is best to allow a hand-reared joey several months for a stress-free adjustment to its future mob:
Standard literature on Macropod medicine and care: